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St John's




St. John's in winter

St. John's is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador and the largest city. The population is approximately 250 000.

The weather is changeable. Winters can be cold and very snowy but not always and vary from 5 to 8 months in duration. Summers vary from English style to French Riviera temperatures.




Very little French is spoken in this part of Canada. Most pamphlets, food labels, etc are written in both English and French that's the law.



Canadian Dollar. At time of writing about C$2.0 to to GBP1, approx parity with the US Dollar.

Many high street banks including some British. Banking is very similar to UK, cash cards, cheques and so forth. Credit cards are commonly used and accepted in most places. However Standing Orders are not easily possible and are costly.

Internet banking is possible but more restrictive than in the UK. To set up international transfers you have to go into the bank it is just not possible on line.



There are a number of bus routes in St. John's but virtually no public transport outside. The railway system was closed down some years ago. Unless you live within walking distance of work a car is a necessity. Cars are reasonably priced in comparison to UK prices. Leasing means hire purchase. However, insurance is very expensive. Canada is following the US in claims of injury after minor accidents which result in high pay outs.

It is legal to drive on a British driving licence for 90 days after which you must have a Canadian driving licence. If on rotation the 90 days starts again on each entry. To obtain this it is necessary to sit a written test (pretty basic if you read the Newfoundland and Labrador Road User's Guide - available free from Motor Vehicle Registration or on line) and a practical test parking, driving, etc.The cost is in the region of C$50. Anecdotally, about 50% of the experienced UK drivers we knew here failed first time.
Whilst it may be possible to continue driving in Canada on a foreign licence it can increase car insurance costs. Also a licence can be useful for identification purposes (video stores, collecting parcels, etc).



Very variable. There are some really nice places and some awful places.

The prices increased rapidly when the oil projects began. It has become especially difficult to get anywhere Downtown. A furnished 2 bed apartment or house costs anything from C$1900 to C$2400 per month. Unfurnished start at around C$1400 per month. Prices vary according to the number of projects on the go. Some places have utilities included but most do not. Cheaper places are rare particularly if you are not from Newfoundland. (This is obvious from your accent). A two week deposit is generally required. Leases are often for one year but can generally be terminated with two or three months loss of rent or by getting a replacement lessee.

There are a large number of utterly awful landlords. Good ones are rare. The main problems are getting repairs done, stopping your landlord entering your home at will (although this is illegal) and getting your deposit back. As soon as you have left the landlord will often claim damage and dirt where none exists. The Landlord Tenancies Board can be helpful in disputes, but once the dispute has run on longer than 3 months you can forget about redress.


Medical Assistance

Very good. With a visa and payment of taxes comes a social insurance number and a medical care plan (MCP) card. With this you can attend a doctor or a hospital (A&E). It is still best to have medical insurance in case of serious injury, serious illness or a need for repatriation. As far as we are aware partners are not covered by MCP. Prescription drugs are costly.



Burgers, cod, cod tongues, seal flipper pie (a rare delicacy), pizza, Indian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, almost anything really.

In St. John's there are plenty of supermarkets to choose from outside the centre. In the centre of town there are numerous corner shops.

Fresh vegetables can be difficult they are imported and, although available in supermarkets, do not last long.



Pubs and nightclubs plenty. George Street is famous an entire street of pubs and clubs open to around 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Sea-kayaking, walking and other outdoor sports. Also, numerous indoor gyms and a skating rink.

The Avalon Mall boasts a 12 screen cinema with all the new releases. In town, Dinner Theatre is popular.


Engineering Qualifications

The Canadian Associations of Professional Engineers (there is one per province) do not acknowledge British Chartered status. It is illegal to call yourself an engineer without Professional Engineer status. Gaining P.Eng is an obstacle course. Different provinces' regulations differ slightly but it is normal to require at least 3 references and proof from your university of qualifications. In addition sitting an Ethics and Practice Examination is a requirement and, in some provinces (including Newfoundland), one year practicing as an engineer in Canada.  General experience of UK Institutes / Institutions is that they are of no help.

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Last modified: September 25, 2007